The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to freeze food

Tomatoes frozen whole.My next newbie freezing question was "How do I freeze food?"  With pesto, tomatoes, applesauce, and a few other things, freezing is as simple as throwing the food in a bag and putting it in the freezer.  But you'll want to blanch most vegetables prior to freezing.

Blanching consists of cooking the food for a couple of minutes, long enough to denature the enzymes so that the vegetables will stop aging and will be preserved in the instant of summer freshness.  I prefer to blanch in a steamer, although you can put your veggies directly in boiling water if you'd rather (though you'll lose flavor and nutrients!)

Be sure to chop your vegetables into bite-sized pieces before blanching.After blanching, you need to cool the food as quickly as possible.  Most folks submerge their vegetables in a basin of ice water, but we have limited drinking water and ice, so instead I just lay the vegetables out on cookie sheets and place them in the fridge's freezer for a few minutes before putting them in their freezing container.  Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy to get a rhythm going where you always have two cookie sheets of vegetables cooling while you're steaming a third set.

Blanching time varies by type of vegetable.  This site has a list of blanching times for most vegetables.  Keep in mind that if you're cooking the vegetables into a sauce, soup, etc., you won't need to blanch.

This post is part of our Introduction to Farm Freezing lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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